Taoiseach: Exiting Level 5 will be ‘very challenging for all’

Taoiseach: Exiting Level 5 Will Be ‘Very Challenging For All’
Taoiseach Micheal Martin, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By James Ward, PA

Exiting lockdown and preparing for Christmas is going to be “very challenging for all”, the Taoiseach has said.

Micheál Martin met with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris on Friday to discuss an exit strategy, along with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and Justice Minister Helen McEntee.


Ireland is due to leave Level 5 restrictions on December 1st, with the Government set to announce plans to move forward next week.

However, public health chiefs have warned that the progress in bringing down levels of the virus made during lockdown has stalled and say the next two weeks will be critical.

I found that a very useful exchange in terms of the next phase

Mr Martin said the meeting with the commissioner had been “very useful” and praised the work of the gardaí during the pandemic. However, he did not provide any details of an exit strategy.


He said: “I found that a very useful exchange in terms of the next phase of how we deal with Covid-19 for the month of December."

Mr Martin said the gardaí had garnered valuable experience in terms of both Level 3 and Level 5 restrictions.

“That was helpful to us, to give us insights in terms of how we decide in relation to the precise way we exit Level 5 and deal with the next month leading into Christmas, which is going to be very, very important indeed and very challenging for all.”


Mr Martin declined to say if new measures would be introduced to combat people congregating outdoors, after scenes of people drinking on the streets last weekend provoked outrage.


“I think the most important message I would give to people is the importance of all of us watching our own individual behaviour and collective behaviour," he said.

Earlier on Friday, it emerged that families may be allowed to gather in larger numbers for one day over the Christmas period under plans being considered by the Government.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has also said he expects restrictions to be eased next month, but businesses will have to wait to find out which sectors can re-open.

We do need to look beyond Christmas itself


The Minister warned the country needs to look “beyond Christmas” ahead of a decision on lifting pandemic restrictions next week.

“We do need to look beyond Christmas itself. And be aware that the medium-term goal in advance of a vaccine being broadly available is to get the spread of the disease down to the lowest level possible," he said.

Level 5 restrictions are due to end on December 1st and businesses, retailers and families are all hoping they will be eased in the run-up to Christmas.

However, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has warned that Ireland needs to make up for the time lost over the last week, when the decline of Covid-19 "stalled".

Covid-19: Families may be allowed to gather for on...
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Attempts to draw up an exit plan for the current lockdown have been marred with disagreement, as Government officials are reported to have clashed with the country’s health advisors.

Amid rumours of fresh rows between Government and Nphet on the right way forward, Mr Donohoe said he was braced for “intense discussions” with public health chiefs.

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